Visit Kyushu
The Official Kyushu Travel Guide

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Seasons

Spring

Cherry Blossoms & Hina Matsuri Festival

Hinamatsuri Festival

Spring is the sweet season in Kyushu, so be sure to catch its myriad sweet spots at this special time of year. For many families, the celebration begins on March 3, a day known as Hina Matsuri in Japan, or Girls’ Day. Each region has its own local variation on this traditional festival, which honors and prays for the health of young girls. Fukuoka prefecture is one of the liveliest places to see this joyful occasion unfold. Meanwhile, excitement builds across Japan as the meteorological “cherry blossom front” stretches northward up the archipelago. It’s always good news for Kyushu, as the sakura wave begins in the south. From classic cultivated Somei Yoshino to wild mountain Yamazakura to dramatically weeping Shidarezakura, several hundred thousand cherry trees progressively erupt in delicate, transient blossoms that herald the arrival of spring.
Cherry Blossoms | Hina Matsuri Festival

Yanagawa Hina Matsuri Festival

Day 1
In Kyushu’s Yanagawa, Hina Matsuri is celebrated with a procession of kimono-clad girls in riverboats gliding along its famous canals. Several kindergarten-aged girls, accompanied by their mothers, dress up in bright red kimonos and ornate gold headpieces for their inaugural appearance in the Ohina-sama Water Parade. The festival’s high-priestess leads the group, casting flower petals to announce the girls’ arrival as the boats pass under colorful hanging ornaments called sagemon. These handmade decorations are unique to the region, each honoring the birth of a girl within a family, and adding a joyous splash to the many shopping streets and canals of picturesque Yanagawa.
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Yame Bonbori Festival

The city of Yame in Kyushu is renowned for its production of finely crafted Hina dolls, which are on full display during the Yame Bonbori (paper lantern) festival. These ornamental dolls depict Heian Period court nobles and are displayed during Hina Matsuri to pray for girls’ continued health and happiness. Look for rose-colored paper lanterns hanging on some one hundred private residences and shops in the Shirakabe shopping district, indicating that they are displaying Hina dolls on the traditional multi-tiered altars. You can also join a workshop to craft your own doll, go on a rickshaw tour of the area, or watch the re-creation of a traditional wedding procession performed in full ceremonial court dresses in the Bonbori Parade.
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Japanese Culture Immersion in Nipponia Hotel

The surrounding Yame area in Kyushu is famous for its historical cultivation of gyokuro tea. The culturally themed Nipponia Hotel offers you a luxury hotel stay inside a tastefully renovated building, where you can choose from a room in a former sake brewery or a prosperous Showa-era tea shop. The concierge is intimately familiar with the region and always happy to offer personalized recommendations for you to experience the best of Yame according to your interests. Foodies, take note: Restaurant Le Un will give you a gourmet tour of the surroundings, featuring local ingredients from nearby mountains, rivers, and sea. Sample Yame’s famed gyokuro tea in a dedicated tea pairing or sip an after-hours cocktail that brings out the tea’s various flavor profiles. Finish the night in your private cypress bath before tucking into bed like an imperial guest.
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Nokonoshima Island Park

Day 2
For ample walking space and fresh air, hop on the ferry to Noko Island Park, also known as Nokonoshima, just a 10-minute ride from Meinohama port. With its ever-changing seasonal floral landscape, spring is a prime time to visit, when vibrant fields of daisies, azaleas, marigolds, and poppies bring the island to life. The park is a compact 12 kilometers all the way around, so you can easily walk or jog across it while taking in the warm breeze and views of the city across the water. Nokonoshima also has plenty of other outdoor activities such as camping and barbecuing. For some local culture and craft, join the rakuyaki workshop, where you can paint hand-thrown plates and ashtrays, or visit the island’s own museum to learn about this insular urban oasis.

Photo by Fukuoka city

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Noko Lunch

Don’t leave the island without sampling some of Nokonoshima’s local eats. Many of the restaurants are located near the port, so you’ll be able to enjoy seaside views while filling your belly with fresh Noko produce. Try Noko Burger for a familiar fare with a local twist, or dive into the local specialty of Noko udon — a thin, firm noodle served either hot or cold — and wash down your meal with a glass of Noko cider. 

Photo © Nokonoshima Island Park

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Itinerary

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DAY 1
9:00 - 12:00
Yanagawa Hina Matsuri Festival
12:00 - 16:00
Yame Bonbori Festival
16:00 - evening
Nipponia Hotel Yame
DAY 2
9:00 - 12:00
Noko Island Park
12:00 - 13:30
Noko Lunch
Mika Senda

Mika Senda

Mika is a writer for Voyapon.com and Lostin-Kyushu.com. In 2018, she made her way from her hometown in Canada to the countryside of Oita Prefecture. Since then, she's been exploring the tradition, art and culture of inaka life, and most likely sitting in an onsen right now.

lostin-kyushu.com

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